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New York Extends Eviction Moratorium Into Next Year

New York lawmakers announced new laws that will forbid residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures in New York state until mid-January after the previous policies expired Tuesday night.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in Coney Island on April 9, 2021

“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the federal eviction moratorium, the Senate Majority is taking action to adjust and extend the state's eviction moratorium to ensure that thousands of New Yorkers are protected from losing their homes and at the same time helping small landlords," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. "The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to fight to keep people in their homes and ensure that every individual who qualifies for these protections receives them. New York State's government must work effectively to address the needs of New Yorkers.”

The statewide moratoriums expired on Aug. 31 following several extensions. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a public address Tuesday evening she was convening a special session to call lawmakers back to Albany to craft an extension. She said the legislature would make sure the new moratorium would be adapted to comply with the Supreme Court's decision earlier this month to strike down a part of New York's eviction ban that allowed tenants to self-certify their financial hardship rather than proving it in court.

As well as extending the moratoriums, the lawmakers announced a plan to expand the hardship fund from $100M to $250M and provide for money to tenants whose incomes are between 80% and 120% of the area median income, as well as landlords whose tenants left owing rent. Landlords whose tenants won't cooperate to apply for relief would also be eligible for the hardship fund.

“We also know that landlords are struggling and we need to make sure small businesses are protected as well,” Hochul said Tuesday. “We’ll be making sure there are due process provisions that the Supreme Court said were lacking in the New York law. That is something that is going to be addressed … We’ll be making it as airtight as you can.”

Under the new bills, a nuisance standard to the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program’s eviction protections will be added. Landlords will be able to move to evict a covered tenant if that tenant is a nuisance or has damaged property. It will also form a “due process mechanism” for landlords to challenge residential and commercial tenants' hardship declarations. 

Hochul stressed if renters apply for and are approved to receive funding from the state's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, they are protected from eviction proceedings for a year, even if they are waiting for money to be distributed.

The state’s rental assistance program has experienced crisis after crisis, however, and has dispersed very little of the money despite a $2.6B funding injection from the federal government, adding to the $100M the state made available. Just $138M, or just over 5%, had been paid out as of Aug. 18, according to the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which runs the program. Tenant and landlord groups alike have slammed the program, saying that it was riddled with technical problems.

The move to extend New York’s moratoriums comes less than a week after the Supreme Court voted to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national moratorium.

“Eviction moratoriums delay evictions, they do not prevent them. What will prevent evictions is reforming and improving the Emergency Rental Assistance Program so it is easier for struggling renters and small property owners to sign up and get the help they need,” Community Housing Improvement Program Executive Director Jay Martin said in a statement Wednesday. "This bill does not do that, it simply does the bare minimum to alter the existing law in an attempt to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling." 

In New York, some 831,000 New York households are behind on their rent, according to the National Equity Atlas, with $4K estimated rent debt per household.